Bubba Wallace is staying put.
Wallace was the first driver hired by 23XI Racing when Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin launched the race team. And it looks like they’re planning on keeping him there.
The team and Wallace announced that the driver has been given a multiyear contract extension that will keep the only black driver in the NASCAR Cup Series behind the wheel of the #23 car.
Wallace is currently in his second year with 23XI, having scored his first Cup Series win last year during a rain-shortened race at Talladega. But Wallace has been on a hot streak lately, with four straight top 10 finishes capped off by a 2nd place run last week at Michigan after starting from the pole. (Despite the result, Wallace still called himself an “absolute fucking failure.”)
With many drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series currently operating on single-year contracts, a multiyear extension shows the confidence that Hamlin and MJ have in Wallace to get their second-year team into championship contention.
According to Hamlin:
“Bubba was a key part of the early stages of 23XI, and I am thrilled that he will continue with the team. When we announced Bubba as our first driver the goal was to help him take his career to a higher level, and we have done just that.
Bubba and the No. 23 team earned the organization our first win and first pole award, and with a career-best four consecutive top-10 finishes heading into Richmond this weekend, Bubba is continuing to get more competitive each week. We’re excited to see his growth as he and the team work toward achieving our goals.”
23XI Racing currently fields cars for Wallace and veteran Kurt Busch, and has announced that current Richard Childress Racing driver Tyler Reddick will be joining 23XI in 2024.
But Busch will miss his fourth straight race this weekend after suffering a concussion during a qualifying crash at Pocono Raceway in July. And with Busch previously hinting that he may retire after the 2023 season (and many speculating he may even decide to hang up his helmet after this season due to his concussion), it’s no surprise the team wanted to lock down one of the sport’s most marketable drivers well into the future.
And Wallace is happy to stay with the team and continue to build on the success they’ve already had:
“It feels great to get this renewal done and to know I have a home at 23XI Racing.
Thanks to MJ and Denny for continuing to believe in me. We’ve come a long way together in less than two years and we’ve checked off some major goals along the way. We know we still have work to do, both on and off the racetrack, but I feel good about our team and the direction we’re heading.
I thought from Day 1 on joining this team that I wanted to make this where I retire and a place that I call home for a very long time,” Wallace said. “I’m just trying to do the best that I can and continue those efforts.”
While his teammate Busch has already secured himself a spot in the playoffs with a win earlier this season, Wallace is currently 19th in points and will need a win in the next three races in order to race for a championship this season.
And with the success the team is having this year (despite some costly mistakes from their pit crew that’s been a major source of frustration for Wallace), and Wallace’s success on superspeedways like the upcoming race at Daytona, it’s not out of the question that Bubba manages to put the #23 car into the playoffs.
But even if he doesn’t, it looks like he’s going to have the opportunity to bring a championship to 23XI Racing for years to come.